Gearhead: Finding the right hummingbird feeder

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With its jewel-like iridescent colors, seemingly spontaneous 49-miles-per-hour skyward dashes and unique clicking sounds, the hummingbird is a constant joy to behold. Luckily for Sonoma County residents, attracting hummingbirds to your garden or apartment terrace is amazingly easy. The prolific Anna’s Hummingbird is a yearlong resident hereabouts, and both Allen’s and Rufous hummingbirds transit through here in spring and fall.

At this time of year, when the exuberant floral displays we’ve experienced since early spring are starting to fade away, it’s more difficult for hummingbirds to find nectar. So if you’ve ever thought of putting out a hummingbird feeder, now is a good time to give it a try.

There are basically two kinds of hummingbird feeders: flattish dish feeders and elongated bottle feeders. Dish feeders are easiest to clean (washing bottle feeders properly requires a brush). Many feeders you’ll see are bright red, because that color attracts hummingbirds. Some feeders come with built in “ant moats” (seen below) — water barriers that keep ants away from the sugar water — but if your feeder lacks one, you can purchase a separate ant guard.

You’ll find a variety of creative, artsy hummingbird feeders on the market, often made of blown glass with beautiful patterns. But for starting out, here are twp recommended basic feeders and a moat to consider.

Aspects 367 HummZinger: The Aspects 367 HummZinger Ultra holds 12 ounces of nectar, has four feeding ports and contains a built-in moat. It also comes with guard tips that can be inserted into the feeding ports to prevent bees and wasps from feeding. It’s easy to clean, can be hung or mounted and is leakproof. $24.95.

3051 Hummingbird Feeder: First Nature’s 3051 Hummingbird Feeder offers 10 feeding ports, and its easy-fill wide-mouth reservoir holds up to 16 ounces. The two-part base twists apart for filling, and all parts can be cleaned with soap and water. $9.99.

Droll Yankees’ Ant Moat: The flower-like cup of Droll Yankees’ Ant Moat holds 6 ounces of water; you hang your feeder from a hook on the moat’s bottom, thereby creating a barrier that effectively prevents ants from continuing their journey to nectar nirvana. The wire is made from sturdy stainless steel, and the bright red cup attracts hummers. $7.99.

All three products can be purchased at numerous garden, hardware and other stores in Sonoma County, and online.

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